Episcopal priest returns to ‘Jeopardy!’ to compete in Tournament of Champions

By David Paulsen
Posted Feb 28, 2024
Ken Jennings and David Sibley

The Rev. David Sibley poses with host Ken Jennings on the set of “Jeopardy!” Sibley first appeared on the show in October 2022. Photo: Jeopardy Productions Inc.

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. David Sibley’s four-day run on “Jeopardy!” in October 2022 has earned him a spot in the show’s Tournament of Champions, and Sibley, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Spokane, wasted no time proving he belonged there.

In the Feb. 27 episode of the popular quiz show, Sibley took a sizable, though not runaway, lead into the Final Jeopardy! round and answered the final clue correctly to maintain a razor-thin edge and advance to the tournament’s semifinals. He is now one win away from the finals in March.

Sibley, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walla Walla, Washington, took to Facebook on Feb. 28 to thank all his fans for their support, calling himself “incredibly fortunate, and incredibly blessed.”

“One thing that I love about ‘Jeopardy!’ is that it is, in many ways, a celebration of curiosity about the world around us,” Sibley, 38, said in his post. “When we’re curious we discover things we never would have imagined about the people around us and discover aspects of our universe that would otherwise escape our sight.”

David Sibley

The Rev. David Sibley nearly qualified to be a contestant once before, in 2007, when he was a college sophomore. Photo: Jeopardy! Productions

Sibley won $78,000 during his first appearances on “Jeopardy!” fulfilling a lifelong dream. He told Episcopal News Service in an interview at the time that growing up he was the kind of kid who would watch the show and “yell answers at the screen.”

Now, he has the distinction of being one of at least three Episcopal priests to compete on the show. The Rev. Kit Carlson, a priest in East Lansing, Michigan, appeared on the show in September 2008, and the Rev. Scott Russell, a chaplain at Virginia Tech, was a contestant in December 2011. Russell now serves as a chaplain at New Jersey’s Rutgers University.

In the Tournament of Champions quarterfinal on Feb. 27, Sibley competed against Yungsheng Wang, a deputy public defender originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, and Hannah Wilson, a puzzle designer from Chicago, Illinois.

Sibley “got off to a rocket start,” according to The Jeopardy! Fan website, and led nearly the whole game, finishing with 20 correct responses and three incorrect. He had $18,800 going into Final Jeopardy! That put him $5,600 ahead of Wilson in second place.

The Final Jeopardy! clue was “A prototype of this craft was deployed in August 1955; it made headlines in May 1960.” All three correctly guessed “What is the U-2?” and Sibley won with $26,401, a mere $6 ahead of Wilson.

“That game could have been played three times, and had three different winners,” Sibley said on Facebook. “Yungsheng and Hannah are amazing people with brilliant intellects of their own, and I love them to pieces.”

The tournament’s three semifinal contests are expected to air starting March 7, though it wasn’t immediately clear which episode would feature Sibley.

Win or lose, Sibley said he hopes his appearance on the show will “inspire you to become more curious – about others, about our world – and in so doing, grow in love of God and neighbor for seeing the beautiful web in which we all live and move.”

– David Paulsen is a senior reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.